Monday, December 10, 2007

So you want a fare increase, do you?

Several weeks ago, there was news that local transport groups petitioned the Land Transportation Franchise and Regulatory Board to approve a fare increase due to the rising cost of fuel. That transport groups would be so bold as to petition for such increases while totally being silent on their members' contribution in aggravating the problem, irked me tremendously. Here's why:

Various studies, internationally and locally, have demonstrated that billions of liters of fuel are wasted in traffic jams every year. What transport groups are willingly ignoring is that their own members are the ones causing much of the traffic jams suffered daily by Filipinos and these groups are perhaps deliberately ignoring their faults for prolonging the problem of fuel prince increases.

Daily commuters are very familiar with the common tactics of bus and jeepney drivers in the streets: converting busy corners and intersections into "terminals" in order to collect enough passengers, with engines running of course; loading and unloading passengers wherever and whenever, without the benefit of pulling over to the side of the street, but actually halting in the middle of the street [an open invitation to horrendous vehicular accidents, really]; deliberately driving in the slowest possible speed in order to hunt for passengers; deliberately driving even slower when approaching an intersection with traffic lights so that by the time the lights turn red, they're situated in the corner where passengers would likely be waiting.

These and other "tactics", apart from wasting the riding public's time and patience, are the cause and origin of many of the traffic jams in the streets of Metro Manila and other cities in the Philippines. With traffic jams causing billions of liters of fuel to be wasted, extraordinary demand for fuel would necessarily follow in order to fill up the wastage. And with heightened demand, fuel prices will track the same upward swing. It's economics. It's common sense. Too bad thousand of jeepney and bus drivers in the Philippines are unaware of this, since their leaders are more likely to indoctrinate them of their socialist struggle against evils of the capitalist system rather than helping them cope with the rising fuels costs in the most practicable manner.

Ideally, the LTFRB or other concerned government agency or even anyone with half the wits required to deserve the appellation of a thinking human being should make it known to these people that they themselves would be more than capable of plotting the course of fuel prices. But that won't happen. Filipino society is far from being ideal.

My point is that concerned transport organizations should address the problem of rising fuel costs by first tackling one of its primary, aggravating causes: their own utter disregard for the most fundamental rules of the road and their own selfishness. In other words, you brought that on yourselves so leave the rest of us alone.

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